texas oncology more breakthroughs. more victories

Mother and Daughter Make for One Incredible Cancer Support System

Publication: Dallas Morning News

By: David Buice

Back in 2013, insurance account executive Becky Done had a close encounter with breast cancer — but it wasn’t her own. That October, her daughter, April, was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 28. Now, after extensive treatment, April is cancer-free. But Becky soon learned that cancer was not yet finished with her family.

A native of South Florida, Becky and her husband Ralph spent 15 years serving as missionaries in Hong Kong with their two young daughters. After years of attending Chinese language school, ministering and teaching, the family eventually returned to the United States and settled in Keller in 2005.  

Once April overcame her fight with cancer, the future seemed bright — until things suddenly changed in the summer of 2016. Becky, now 53 and the mother of three daughters, noticed a red rash on her chest and assumed it was some sort of infection. Her primary care physician agreed, but when the rash did not respond to a round of antibiotics, Becky suspected that the rash was more than a typical infection.  

Her physician referred her to a surgeon for a biopsy. That referral was followed by a round of MRIs and CT scans, which led to a diagnosis of Stage 2 inflammatory breast cancer.

Dr. Heidi Jordan at Texas Oncology—Grapevine — the same doctor who treated April — designed Becky’s treatment plan.

What came next was difficult. Between September and December 2016, Becky underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy performed by Dr. Mary Brian, Texas Breast Specialists—Bedford in January 2017. Radiation treatments followed in February and March.  

But Becky’s fight wasn’t over. As she recovered from treatment, she noticed an inflamed spot on her mastectomy scar line. She hoped that it was only an inflamed suture, but another round of testing revealed that Becky’s cancer had recurred and spread to her lungs. She was newly diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and is currently undergoing palliative treatment.

How does someone even begin to cope with all this? Imagine: Your daughter is diagnosed with breast cancer, and then you are diagnosed not once, but twice with the same disease.

For Becky, the answer is family and faith. She says that her husband Ralph has been an “amazing rock” to lean on, and that she’s received an outpouring of love and support from her immediate family and other relatives and friends.

“Rebecca has a beautiful and supportive family,” Jordan said. “Faith is the center of her home and her journey. She has remained upbeat and motivated throughout treatment.”

During the course of her treatment, Becky has drawn inspiration and strength from her daughter’s cancer journey. Though she was at April’s side for the entirety of her treatment, it was only during her own treatment that Becky began to fully comprehend the bravery of her daughter’s fight. Becky notes that April was “walking blind” with no one else’s experience to fall back on, and yet she fought that fight with incredible strength.

“It was an amazing experience to watch her,” Becky said of April.

Though the past few years have been difficult for Becky and her family, she says she’s come to embrace a beautiful silver lining: a true understanding of the importance of community support. “You must be with other people, loving and being loved, allowing others to walk the journey with you,” Becky said. “You simply need people. You cannot get through it without them.”

Texas Oncology’s model of community-based cancer care enables patients to receive high-quality care while staying close to the critical support of family and friends.

And what does the future hold for the Done family? No one knows for certain, of course, but Becky is looking forward, not backward. She said that once she got over the shock of her cancer recurrence, “God’s grace swept over me, and I knew that, whatever the outcome, it will be all right.”

Becky continues to work from home and looks forward to ministering to those in need, traveling and growing old with her husband, her children and her grandchildren. In other words, she’s going to go on living. “I know that treatment will be an essential part of my life, but cancer will not define our lives. We will continue to live our lives to the fullest.”

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